How to Cope with the Loss of Another Semester Due to COVID-19

In March, we thought we would be out of school for just two weeks. In April, we thought we would be back in August. In August, we thought things would be back to normal in January. And now here we are in January, looking toward another semester lost due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We have struggled for nine months, and the struggle is not over yet. 

If I’m being completely honest, I have not coped the best with this whole “pandemic ruining my college experience” situation. When I told my dad I was writing this article, he told me, “You might be the perfect person to write this,” because I am just like you all. I am learning as I go and trying everything I can to make it through. While I am not perfect, I have found small ways to cope with the loss of this past semester, and mindset changes that are helping me cope with the loss of our spring semester.

  1. 1. Acknowledge how far you have come

    woman looking at her reflection in mirror

    You did it! You’ve made it this far and that's an accomplishment in itself. You are still in college (congrats on not dropping out or failing out), and you are alive. You are a living, breathing, beautiful person. That’s impressive, and you need to give yourself more credit. It’s hard to live through a pandemic, much less take classes and get an education. Good job, I'm proud of you!

  2. 2. Change your perspective

    This is crucial for coping with the pandemic, and something I often struggle with. This is not the time to be partying, or learning in a classroom. This is the time to challenge yourself with online school, to get more sleep, to spend time doing crafts inside, and learning to meditate. This is the time to enjoy more wine nights with roommates (if you are of age, of course) and to enjoy going on drives. This is the time to learn how to cook for yourself and to work out in your bedroom where no creepy men can hit on you. This is the time to try new things with your friends

    Julianne, a freshman at the University or Virginia, says, "I don't have any preconceived idea of what college is. I knew going to college would be a change from the past 18 years, so the change was just different for me than it had been for older students." She mentioned how her perspective has helped her cope with these changes.

    This is just another challenge, but it's a chance to do things we wouldn’t normally do. This will help you grow as a person. Changing your perspective is a game-changer. This isn’t a lost semester; it's just different. 

  3. 3.  Appreciate the low you are feeling

    woman in white long-sleeve shirt looking out a rainy window

     I saw a TikTok recently that explained how people who feel the lowest lows in turn feel the highest highs. They know what rock bottom feels like, so they can appreciate when they are happy. 

    To an extent, we are all like that. Being a college student during this pandemic isn’t easy, but it is teaching us to be appreciative of the highs. I know when the world goes back to normal, I will be much more appreciative of sweaty frat basements, overpriced drinks, long waits for a table at a restaurant, nosebleed concert seats, and long red-eye flights that result in jet lag.

  4. 4. Know there is hope for the future

    rock concert

    With the vaccine coming out, there is hope. Sure, we are losing another semester, but the world will eventually go back to normal. For all of the underclassmen, you will get another chance (or just a chance, if you're a freshman) to hopefully live an almost normal college life once things to back to the new normal

    For the seniors, the real world is fun, too. Sure, you won’t be taking classes anymore, but you can still live with friends, get a little too drunk on a Thursday, go to football or baseball or basketball games, flirt with strangers, and have fun. And soon you will have access to adult money, so you’ll have more freedom to travel, shop, or do whatever you want. Life doesn't end after college, so enjoy this time you have now, and know there will be fun again in the future.

  5. 5.   Live in the moment and find the joy in life

    woman standing in a sunflower field

    This is something I'm trying to do more of. I try to have main character energy, and encourage myself that this is a life worth having. Enjoy the little things, and realize that every day is a blessing. Some things I like to do are blast my favorite playlists and dance around my room, enjoy my cup of coffee every morning, make myself meals that make me feel good, put on cute outfits and compliment myself, and get out of my house. 

  6. 6.  Get out of your house

    Photo of young brunette woman wearing a backpack and walking down a street alone shot from behind

    Yeah, let's talk about it. Obviously, you need to be doing this safely, but I think a change of scenery is so important. I keep telling my mom, “It's so hard to get out of bed because every day is the exact same,” and every time I say it I realize what I need to do. I need to make my days different, whether it be a walk or drive, a socially distanced coffee or lunch date with a friend, a picnic, a photoshoot, or a safe shopping trip — anything to get myself outta tune.

    I make it a goal to leave the house every day. This can be a grocery run, a walk with my roommates, a trip to the library (masked up, of course) to study in a new place, or a drive by the farms near my campus. This is such an easy way to help you feel like you're not wasting your life away. 

  7. 7. Practice gratitude

    grateful journal

    I love journaling, and I have been making a gratitude list at the end of every entry. Sometimes I write small things like coffee, bagels from our local college town bagel shop, movie nights with my roommates, drives through the countryside, or my plants. Other times it’s bigger things, like my friends and family, the food I eat, and the clean water I drink. The roof over my head and the money in my pocket. Practicing gratitude changes your perspective (wink wink) and helps create a more positive outlook.

    Julianne says, "One thing that I’m grateful for is that the rules that COVID-19  brought about led me to my closest friends. I am really close with people in my building because we can only go into our own buildings. Without those rules in place, I might not have found such strong friendships." 

Related: Campus Clubs Are Worth Joining Your Freshman Year, Even if They're Online

I know the loss of another in-person semester sucks, but in the long run, this will only make us stronger. Remember that you are capable, strong, smart, and beautiful. I am proud of you!